Since composing my previous post about Mike Guglielmucci and his song "Healer" I have gone back and listened to This Is Our King a couple more times. I realized that before I had even purchased it, and during my first ten listens or so, I approached the album with a critical bias, namely because of my former interpretations of Hillsong albums as shallow in lyric and strong in melody. I have perhaps unfairly cast my negative outlook of Brian Houston's quasi-prosperity teaching and the commercial identity of his church upon the musical worship and songs that have come out of Hillsong.

In all fairness, my two recent listens, which I did as objectively as possible, revealed something that causes me to look upon it with much greater generosity. In my last post I said,

"Healer" is, in my opinion, by far the best song on the album. (Most of the others are not congregationally friendly, and/or are somewhat shallow, including one that is borderline unbiblical, but we won't get into that.)

In truth, many of the songs are congregationally friendly, and many of them are filled with powerfully true words and excellent melodies, the same strong combination that has marked Hillsong from the beginning. "Healer" is an excellent song, but "Stronger" is just as strong because of its cross-centered lyrics, its congregational ease, and its unique hymn-like melody. The title track "This Is our God" is a gorgeous song professing God as the sovereign Rescuer of the world, at Whose feet we will fall and worship. Another fine song is "Desert Song" about praising God in every season and sung by two of the most beautiful female voices I have heard in a long time, Brooke Fraser and Jill McCloghry. (You might remember the name Brooke Fraser from my post on her awesome album Albertine.) Back to this album, the upbeat songs are in typical Hillsong United flavor: hooky, punk-inspired melodies with youthy words. Nothing unbiblical, but not necessarily my cup of tea. (Admittedly, clappable songs are not easy to write, and United is doing a fine job.)

Now, concerning the one song that is borderline unbiblical, it's time to "get into that." The song is "You'll Come" by Brooke Fraser. It begins, "I have decided, I have resolved to wait upon You, Lord." It continues in the hope that God will come, and then the chorus:

You'll come
Let Your glory fall as You respond to us
Spirit rain
Flood into our thirsty hearts again
You'll come
You'll come

I say this is "borderline" unbiblical because it is not entirely wrong. Yes, in addition to God always being present with us, He meets us in a special way when we decide to come to Him in worship, invoking His Spirit. It is good to sing "Come, Lord Jesus, come; Holy Spirit, come." Jesus says, "If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!" (Luke 11:13). It is biblical for us to ask God to come to us again and again in worship. On the other hand, the lyric of this song could potentially be misleading and lead people into a false understanding of worship. What this song conveys to me is that we resolve in our own hearts, tap into the well of goodness within ourselves, to bring something (an offering of worship) to God, to which He responds by sending his glory and Spirit to quench our thirst. There are a couple problems I see in this.

First, it is God who draws us to Himself in the first place by His Spirit. It is He who works on our minds and hearts so that we can decide and resolve to worship Him. Scripture is clear, "There is no one who calls upon your name, who rouses himself to take hold of you; you have hidden your face from us, and have made us melt in the hand of our iniquities" (Is. 64:7). Jesus alone draws us to God (Heb. 4:16; 7:19). Many of you will disagree, and I'm sorry you don't believe this. You see, there is nothing good in us that we have to offer God. It is Christ in us that is the hope of glory. It is the Spirit crying out from our innermost to the Father. The movement of worship begins and ends with God. (See my post "Triune Love.")

Second, continuing from the first, our decision and resolve to worship is our response to God. It is not up to us to try to get God to hear us and responsively send His glory. God draws us to worship Him by His Spirit through Christ. "For we are the circumcision, who worship by the Spirit of God and glory in Christ Jesus and put no confidence in the flesh" (Philip. 3:3). It all begins and ends with Him, the Author and Perfecter. When God reveals Himself, then and only then are we able to respond in worship. "You'll Come" has it backwards. God doesn't respond to us, we respond to Him.

I wonder if anyone else caught this while listening to This Is Our God. Overall, the album is good. I realized listening to it these last couple times, objectively, that many of the songs, in and of themselves, are excellent. It's a very Hillsongish album. I'm glad I gave it another go around. I may even lead one or two of these songs in church someday.

These icons link to social bookmarking sites where readers can share and discover new web pages.
  • Digg
  • Sphinn
  • del.icio.us
  • Facebook
  • Mixx
  • Google
  • Furl
  • Reddit
  • Spurl
  • StumbleUpon
  • Technorati